When you decided to take up law, you probably didn’t imagine how challenging your path to success would be. The unfortunate truth is that the outlook of employment for young lawyers isn’t what it once used to be, especially in the pre-digital era.
Lawyers need to make their name in a landscape that’s increasingly more business-like, with outsourcing of legal work to lower-paid paralegals and legal professionals located in lower-cost countries.
On top of that, expectations of potential clients have grown. They expect an even faster service at a more affordable price.
Here are some things you should try if you want to be competitive and succeed in today’s environment.
1. Embrace technology and innovation
As the legal profession is becoming increasingly reliant on technology, your future opportunities and relevance are directly related to your understanding and use of the legal tech.
The widespread use of legal software for law firms is finally bringing an end to workflow inefficiencies that have been bogging down the law profession. So it’s crucial to use these solutions to their maximum potential.
Aside from software, you should also be familiar with the technology that allows for the automation of repetitive tasks in the workplace, as well as the benefits of using artificial intelligence and machine learning in the legal profession.
Ultimately, the use of technology can make your work more efficient and affordable, which is a prerequisite for being able to meet the demands of today’s clients.
2. Find a niche
Abandoning the jack of all trades approach and differentiating yourself from the competition will be vital to your future success. If you specialize in a niche, you can offer more value to potential employers or clients.
This move could lead to great financial benefits as well, depending on the specific industry you chose to specialize in, such as real estate law, banking, or overseas investments – to name a few.
Make sure to research which legal services are unexplored and popular as well, especially as technological developments are constantly creating new legal issues that require solving.
For instance, IP lawyers that specialize in handling legal matters related to intellectual property are currently in high demand due to a growing number of new ideas and patents in the digital age.
3. Work on your networking skills
As a young lawyer, business development and networking, in particular, should be at the top of your priorities as they can create many opportunities.
For starters, you should make a list of associates, colleagues, and organizations you’ve come across in your professional life so far and contact them occasionally to set up meetings. These will strengthen your existing network and give you a new set of communication skills that are going to come in handy in the future.
You should also become more engaged with the community by joining bar associations or participating in high-profile events. Engaging in strategic professional experience will do wonders for your network, and should never be neglected.
4. Work on your personal brand
Branding is important for lawyers, especially today when the rise of digital marketing made a strong online presence a necessity. A strong personal brand often provides more business opportunities.
After deciding how you want to present yourself, your values, and your skills to the world, a good first step is creating a website that contains all of the information above or your legal practice. Your website should be search engine optimized and we also recommend creating a blog section, since content marketing is a good way to improve your ranking in search engines and show off your expertise.
This doesn’t stop at blogs however, as you could also make videos or provide news articles to your audience to offer more value.
Finally, make sure to improve your LinkedIn profile or other social media sites and make it consistent with your personal brand.
5. Open a virtual law firm
Another career path that’s growing in popularity and made possible by technology is a virtual firm.
If you’re not sure if you see yourself as running a traditional law practice or working in one, you can go solo and move into the digital realm completely – which is much simpler than you think.
Armed with cloud-based management software and other tools that make your workflow easier and bearable, you can provide exceptional service at a fraction of the cost that it takes to run a physical law office.
We already mentioned how demanding clients are these days. A virtual law firm can provide a timely and cheaper service due to its lower operating costs.
A path to success
With law schools churning out young attorneys at a fast pace in the market that is already saturated, the current climate doesn’t forgive mistakes.
It might seem overwhelming since the cards are stacked against you, but the modern era does offer ways to flip the odds in your favor. For example, there are now many areas you can carve out a niche for yourself due to new legal problems arising from the adoption of new technology.
Building a personal brand and smart networking is easier today as well, and it comes in handy if you wish to go down the digital route.
There are plenty of options that will provide a solid foundation for future success. It’s just a matter of picking the one that suits you best.